ASEAN’s Shameful Silence on the Rohingya Genocide Continues

26th June 2020

Southeast Asian leaders have again shamefully failed to address the ongoing genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK (BROUK) said as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit concluded.

Regional heads of state gathered today for the 36th ASEAN Summit, hosted virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. While the leaders addressed a range of topics – including the economic fallout of the Coronavirus – they failed to address the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar, or the hundreds of refugees who have been stranded at sea in horrific conditions in recent months.

“This Summit has been another shameful example of how ASEAN as an institution has tried to sweep the genocide against the Rohingya under the carpet. The regional bloc has for years refused to condemn Myanmar’s atrocities, and unfortunately the silence continued today,” said Tun Khin, President of BROUK.

“ASEAN should immediately push Myanmar to end the genocide against the Rohingya, including by granting us citizenship and holding those responsible for vicious violence to account. This is all the more crucial at a time when the future of the Rohingya as a people is at risk.”

In 2017, Myanmar’s military systematically killed thousands of Rohingya in Rakhine State, committed sexual violence including rape, burned whole villages to the ground and forced some 800,000 to flee for their lives into neighbouring Bangladesh where they continue to live as refugees. The Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State live under hellish conditions where they are denied citizenship and severe restrictions on their freedom of movement means accessing healthcare, education and the labour market is extremely difficult.

In recent months, a growing crisis of maritime refugees on the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal has highlighted the plight of the Rohingya. Hundreds of women, men and children have been stranded at sea in rickety boats as Asian governments – including Malaysia and Thailand – have mostly refused to let them disembark.

Rohingya who have been able to come ashore in Bangladesh described how horrific conditions on the boats, including beatings by traffickers and a lack of food and water, had led to several deaths. This week, on Wednesday 24 June, local fishermen rescued a boat carrying 94 Rohingya off the coast of Aceh in Indonesia.

“By rescuing a boat carrying desperate people who have risked everything, the fishermen in Aceh have done the job of Southeast Asian governments for them. These fisherman have shown what humanity is all about – we express our deepest gratitude,” said Tun Khin.

“Refusing to allow Rohingya refugees to disembark on their shores is not just a violation of international law, but also shows a callous lack of compassion. Instead of pushing boats back to sea, ASEAN states should act immediately to ensure that refugees get the care they deserve. This should include regional responsibility sharing, as well as co-ordinated search and rescue efforts.”

For more information , please contact Tun Khin +44 7888714866.

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